Formula One is no child's play for Verstappen

Fri Oct 3, 2014 5:51am EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SUZUKA Japan (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel lost another Formula One record to the Playstation generation on Friday when Max Verstappen became the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix weekend only days after his 17th birthday.

It was certainly not child's play for the Dutch youngster, who was 12th fastest in the opening Japanese Grand Prix practice session, but he recognized his task had been made easier by honing his skills in the virtual world.

Verstappen, who next year will become the sport's youngest ever race driver when he debuts for Toro Rosso, replaced Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne for the opening 90 minutes at Suzuka.

In doing so, he replaced Red Bull's Vettel -- the previous youngest after making his weekend debut in 2006 at 19 years and 53 days -- in the record books.

It was the second record the German four times world champion has relinquished this season, with Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat becoming the youngest points scorer at the age of 19 in Melbourne in March.

Verstappen, son of former F1 racer Jos, took it all in his stride.

Asked whether he had found it hard to cope with the workload imposed on the current crop of Formula One drivers, who must operate a complex array of buttons and knobs on the steering wheel, he smiled: "No, not really."

"All the different buttons and knobs, I think because the younger generation, you grow up with it, with all that kind of stuff and you play many times on the PlayStation," he said.   Continued...

Toro Rosso Formula One driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands returns to the garage after his car stalled on the track during the first practice session of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai